Saturday, September 23, 2017

What Kind of Print~




I pray 
I am leaving 
heartprints of God 
everywhere I go.







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Thursday, September 21, 2017

While We Were Yet~

Looking across the drive,
I spotted this tree,
and in it,
I spotted me.

Against the backdrop
of the setting sun,
I noticed for the very first time,
if you see it not for what it is,
but what it resembles,
you can see in it,
the outline of a heart.

And, I thought of me -
a mere human to mere humans,
but against the backdrop
of the light of God's love,
my God sees me -
not for what I am-
but for what I long to resemble -
a heart like His,
a love like His.

And I thought once again,
of His precious love -
love that was willing to die
before I resembled Him,
before I even knew Him or loved Him, -
while I was yet lost
in my humanness,
imprisoned by my sin,
a sinner through and through.

While we were yet,
Christ loved us.
While we were yet,
Christ died for us.

And it is because of His love,
and because of His death,
and because of my new life in Him,
that more and more,
day by day,
I - like this tree -
can reveal to the world,
not me,
but the heart of the Creator,
the heart of my Savior.











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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Moment in Time~

The sun has bid us adieu
and dipped behind the hill.

As the sky hangs on tight
to the last light of day,
birds are chirping their goodnights.

Unlike the birds,
I am not ready to say goodnight.

Just like the sky,
I am desperately trying
to wring out every last bit of this day.

To be able to pause time
and just sit here and linger -
for another few minutes,
another few hours,
another day or two more.

But, I can't.

With every tick, tock, tick of the clock,
with every rotation of earth on its axis,
with every single breath,
life is moving on.

We are only given one moment, -
one moment at a time.

But, sometimes it seems,
we aren't given enough time
for each and every moment.

Such is the case right here,
right now.

As the cool of the "almost here" night
brushes against my face,
I breathe it in
and hold it -
for just a few seconds -
then,
slowly let it out.

As the sky grows dimmer and dimmer,
I soak in the sun-tipped clouds
and hold them, too -
for just a few seconds -
then,
I slowly close my eyes in prayer
and give thanks for this day.










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Sunday, September 17, 2017

When You Hear So Much More Than Words~

As I meandered
past the small table where she was sitting,
she looked up.

"Good Morning," I said,
as I smiled and made my way
on over to the counter.

"Excuse me," she said.
"Would you mind moving closer
so I can read the back of your shirt?"

Hearing her frail voice and her simple request,
I happily stepped back over to her table,
turned my back to her,
pulled on the bottom of my shirt
to remove any wrinkles,
and then listened
as she read the words written there,
out loud.


"Oh, I love that verse,"
 she exclaimed.

As I turned to face her,
her face lit up.

"I thought that was you!"
she said with an excitement
that took me completely by surprise.
"I think I've heard you speak.
You are a speaker,
aren't you?"

I couldn't help
but smile.

"Yes," I quietly answered.
 "I am.
As a matter of fact,
this T-shirt
is from a women's retreat
I spoke at several years ago."


"I knew it!" she said,
as she clapped her hands together.
"I've seen you on TV
speaking about God!"

"No, Ma'am, I'm sorry," I quickly interjected,
"You must have me mistaken with someone else.
I've never been on TV."

"Well, you will be, dear.
One day,
you will be!"

And in that moment,
it wasn't my ears who heard her words,
but my spirit.
And, I knew God,
as He always is,
was in this place,
in this conversation,
in these very words.

"I don't know what I would do
without God," she continued.
"You probably won't understand this,
being that you are still so young,
but I lost my husband 18 years ago,
and I still miss him terribly.
Every day, oh, how I miss that man.
God is the only thing that has kept me going
all these years without him.
It's a hard kind of missing
that you can't really understand
until you, yourself, have been there.
Losing him broke my heart,
but God has always been there for me."

Without even thinking about it,
my right hand met my left
and gently turned my wedding ring,
still on my finger,
a year and a half later.

"Life is all about
what you choose to see.
Like me, right now,
choosing to read the back of your shirt,
and finding encouragement for my soul.
Or, like the time we had car trouble
out in the middle of nowhere.
I've never forgotten that time.
There we were, -
Oh, I'm sorry -
I'm talking your ear off.
Do you have time for this story?"

"Yes," I smiled,
"I would love to hear it."

She smiled back,
a beautiful smile, heart deep,
and continued right where she had left off.

" . . .out in the middle of nowhere,
with no one around,
we were pulled off to the side of the road.
All my daughter and I could do
was wait for God to send some help.
Just wait for God to move.
But, do you know,
while we were waiting,
we saw the most glorious sunset!
And, then, if that wasn't enough,
we saw the most beautiful full moon come up.
No, I will never forget that."

"Are you ready, Stacy?"

The voice of my mother,
who had stopped by the restroom
on our way in,
floated into our conversation.

"This is my mother," I said
as I introduced my mom
to my new found friend.

"Hello," this precious lady said
as she reached out,
took hold of my hand,
and looked up at my mother.
"We've been having the most wonderful time."

Then she looked deep in my eyes.

"I've enjoyed visiting with you.
I'm so glad you took the time to listen."

And once again,
in that moment,
it wasn't my ears who heard her words,
but my spirit

I'm so glad you took the time to listen.

And, I knew God,
as He always is,
was in this place,
in this conversation,
in these very words.

And, I also knew
these very words
were just what my heart needed to
"grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

For this precious encounter,
for this moment of "listening",
for this moment of "hearing"
far beyond what was said -

"To Him be the glory
both now
and to the day of eternity.
Amen."







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Saturday, September 16, 2017

When God's Plans Come Together~

2002.
The year God led me north,
and into the home of my parents,
and into the title of Principal and Teacher in a brand new Christian school,
and into the lives of so many beautiful people.

2007.
The year God released me to head back south,
and into my own home and bed,
and into the title of Nanny and later, Director of Children's Ministries,
and into the remaining years with my husband.

2017.
The year God once again led me north,
and back into the home of my mom,
and back into the lives of so many beautiful people.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, 
and he delights in his way.
~Psalm 37:23

I certainly can't claim to be good,
but my God most definitely is.
The way He has beautifully woven together
the steps of my life
is a precious testimony
of His faithfulness and love.

This past Tuesday,
a perfect example.

As soon as I heard her voice,
lifted my eyes up to see her,
stood up to meet her,
and wrapped my arms around her in a huge hug,
the tears came.

I've always been a cry baby,
but there is something now,
since losing my husband,
that has me in tears
the moment my heart realizes
it is in the company
of someone that loves me.

And, this friend of the faith
and sister in the Lord,
loves me.
And, I love her.
The tears -
well, they simply had no choice
but to fall.

Having not seen each other
in almost a decade,
didn't matter.
Our conversation flowed
as easily and as freely
as our tears.

"I'm here to help you
in any way I can.
Really.
Call me anytime.
If you want someone to talk to,
or want someone to share a cup of tea with,
or need anything at all.
I'm here for you."

And,
my heart and I -
we both know she is.

Standing before her now,
ten years down the road
from the last time we spoke,
I realized this reunion
was strategically planned
and lovingly orchestrated
by the God who orders my steps.

Fifteen years ago
when He called me north,
when He brought me to the home of my parents,
when He brought me to a new job,
when He brought me into the lives of so many beautiful people,
He knew then
that I would need
these beautiful people now.

What seemed like an opportunity to
spend time with my ailing father,
help out my overworked mother,
and minister to children and their families,
was also an opportunity to
build relationships and a support system
that would be in place for me now.

"Lord, if only my husband was still here.
Oh, how I need his support."

This prayer has come from my lips
over and over and over
these past few weeks,
and yet,
this past Tuesday,
embraced in the arms
of one who knows and loves me well,
I knew God had already gone before me,
fifteen years before,
for such a time as this,
right here,
right now,
in 2017.

We don't always see it at the time.
We don't always understand His ways.
But,
in each step,
in each calling,
in each and every closed door,
and in each and every new opportunity,
God is at work.

Our God knows what we need.
And, our God knows where we need to be.

I needed to be here then,
and I need to be here now.
And God,
in His wisdom and tender love
designed, orchestrated and executed one beautiful plan
with another,
just as beautiful,
in mind.

It's who He is.
It's what He does.
It's how He works.

And, when we see it played out
and the pieces fitting perfectly in place,
it's where we come to know our God
in a way that causes us to
love Him
and trust Him
even more.

2002.
The year I came north.

2007.
The year I went back south.

2017.
The year God brought me full circle
and opened my eyes to see
more clearly than ever before

" . . . Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think . . ."
~Ephesians 3:20










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Thursday, September 14, 2017

When Your Momma Needs You and You Need God~

I stand in the hallway,
resting my head on her bedroom door
in the wee hours of the morning, -
a faint light from the night light
in the bathroom across the hall,
keeping total darkness at bay.

As my hand glides over the wood
separating us at this particular moment,
my heart is overcome with fear to realize
the differences between us,
moment by moment,
day by day,
might be causing my precious mother
to feel barricaded and alone -
alone in her battle,
alone in her fears,
alone in her confusion.

And, I find myself doing what only comes naturally -
wiping tears from my eyes while
crying out to my God.

Lord,
I don't want to fail her -
not now,
not ever.

Lord, she needs me.
But, more than that,
she needs to know
I hear what she isn't saying,
I understand her spoken and unspoken concerns,
I sense her fears,
I realize her struggle,
I'm on her side.

Lord, I need You.
I need Your patience and Your peace,
I need Your wisdom and Your instruction,
I need Your still small voice
whispering to me
boldly, loudly, clearly
what to do,
what to say,
what to meddle into,
what to leave alone.

She's my mother,
my precious mother.
All my life,
she has been the one standing outside
the door of my life,
praying for Godly guidance to lead me.

"Raising you girls was the hardest job I ever had.
I didn't know anything about babies or
how to raise children."

It's an admission she has confessed
and I have heard
time and time again.

But now,
it's my turn.

Lord,
I don't have a clue in the world 
how to honor a parent
in her golden years of life.
I don't know anything about
helping without insulting her independence,
questioning without insulting her intelligence,
interfering without insulting her privacy.

Serving my mom is the hardest job I have ever had,
simply and only because
I don't know how to do it,
right.

Through the door,
I hear the sounds of
what I hope are sweet dreams, -
slow, steady, deep breaths -
and I wipe another tear.

Lord,
may my presence here 
bring with it,
the sweetness of You.

May my being with my precious Momma
day to day,
bring her a sense of 
peace and comfort,
companionship and strength,
joy and relief.

May she find in me now,
what I found in her so many years ago -
safety,
security,
protection,
wisdom,

home.

May she know that she knows that she knows
that I love her,
with every bit of my heart,
I love her.

Lord, 
I need You,
now more than ever
because she needs me
now more than ever.
She needs
what only You can do
for her
through me.

I don't want to fail her, Lord.
I can't fail her,
because she didn't fail me.

Lead me,
that I, in turn,
might have the 
incredible honor
and the undeserved privilege
of leading her.

I stand in the hallway,
resting my head on her bedroom door
in the wee hours of the morning, -
an ever present light
from the God who never fails His children
keeping total darkness at bay.

And, I find myself doing what only comes naturally -
wiping tears from my eyes while
thanking my God.











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Monday, September 11, 2017

God's Waiting Room~


Have you ever been in God's waiting room?


You prayed for an answer.

(Silence)


You prayed for God to move.

(Stillness)


You prayed for God to open doors and make a way.

(Closed doors and dead ends)




Waiting.

(It's not easy.)




God IS faithful, we know this to be true.

But.....


Why?


WHy?


WHY?


Why does God sometimes choose to delay?
Why do we sometimes (often times) have to wait?



Could it be

- in the waiting -

we discover if WE are faithful?



Will we wait

UNTIL the answer comes,

UNTIL God moves,

UNTIL the door opens?



Will we persevere in prayer?


Waiting for Grownups
{Photo Credit}


Maybe God is waiting to see.


I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
 ~ Psalm 130:5







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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Just Wondering . . .

"Where are you?
Where did you go?"

Arriving home and
stepping out of the car,
I saw it immediately.

As I shut the car door behind me,
I was drawn straight to its beauty.

Pulling out my camera,
I was hunched down low to the ground,
focusing and shooting away,
out of sight from my mom,
who was now wondering where I was.

"I'm over here," I said as I stood up
and starting walking towards my mom
and the front door.

"What were you doing?"

"I was trying to capture the beauty
 of the flowers there by the car."

"What flowers?"

And with that,
she started walking
to where I had just been.

"Oh, this?  This is just alfalfa.
It doesn't belong here.
It started coming up all on its own."

"Yes, I know it's alfalfa,
but look at the flowers on it.
Isn't that a gorgeous shade of purple?
These flowers are so beautiful."

"Well, yes, but it's just alfalfa."

And with that,
she headed back to the front door.

 . . . just alfalfa.

And, I couldn't help wondering,
how many times in my life,
I had looked at that
which was right in front of me
as just a this or just a that.

And, I began to debate,
with no one but myself,
if referring to something
as just a this or just a that
was truly a just judgment.

Who decided a flower on an alfalfa plant
isn't just as beautiful as a rose
punctuating a long stem of thorns?

Is anything in life
worthy of being classified
as just a __________?

Just a glass of water.
(How in the world
does hydrogen and oxygen
combine to form a liquid
necessary for life?)

Just a another day.
(How in the world
does the sun orbit in the universe
and rise and set every 24 hours?)

Just a coincidence.
(How in the world
does something happen
in just the right way
at just the right time?)

Just - what an unusual word.

So often when we use it,
at least, in the way I seem to hear it most -
it is used to convey
"merely, only".

And yet,
this very same word can also
convey just the opposite -
"exactly, precisely, actually, positively" -
such as:
The alfalfa flowers were just gorgeous!

And,
I wonder if we are looking
at our world,
at the people in our lives,
at the every day things
in our every day lives,
at our very God,
in just the right way.

Is our assessment,
our opinion,
our judgment,
just?

Just maybe,
we our missing out on
the reality of what is
because we settle for
just seeing this
or just seeing that.

What if the all of our life
isn't simply
just this or just that
but
incredibly,
miraculously,
unbelievably,

just amazing?!

How would
our attitude,
our contentment,
our satisfaction,
our enjoyment,
our joy,
our fulfillment in life change
if we just
justed (yes, I just made that word up!)
in a more positive way?

 . . . just alfalfa?

Maybe.

But,
with the Holy Spirit's help,
I pray I see life,
all of it,
just as He intended for me to:
with awe,
with wonder,
with appreciation,
and with thanksgiving -
a gift from His hand,
just for me,
just because,
just incredible!










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Thursday, August 31, 2017

When Ugly Takes Over~

"No, it's not.
It's not beautiful at all.
It's ugly - 
so very ugly."

Broken,
I had headed back to the bedroom
that had become mine once again.

Fifteen years ago,
in August, 2002,
I had moved back in with my parents,
and into this very room.

My father's health, declining,
my mom's strength in carrying the weight, waning,
my "Daddy's girl" heart, aching,
my husband's heart, willing,
and God's perfect will, leading
had me unpacking bags and settling in.

Now,
years later,
here I was again,
my mom's needs, calling.

Only this time it was so very different than before -
my Daddy no longer in his chair,
and my man no longer on the other end of a phone call.

And my mom,
as different from me as I am from her.

And me,
as different from my mom and she is from me.

We share a love that is deep,
make no mistake about that,
it's just we see life from completely different angles.
I see it with my heart.
She sees it with her head.
And sometimes,
it seems we will never see it all,
eye to eye,
the same.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Broken by words that were spoken in frustration -
by her
and most heartbreakingly, by me,
I had retreated to "my" bedroom.

Sitting on the edge of the bed,
I glanced at the nightstand
and spotted a card my husband had sent me
so many years before
when I was here,
and he was living 400 miles away.




Your the best, my little Panquitch. God will never forget your labor of love for so many, and the total sacrifice you give everyday. You are an earthly angel and have been so beautiful to me. Thank you, Honey. You make my heart glad. I am so proud of you. True character shines forth in adversity and yours is beautiful to behold. You are a true woman, Proverbs 31 personified. You have a great personality, quiet and meek, but also so strong and powerful. God loves you so much and is well pleased. Thank you for being so good to me, my baby. I'll love you always, your thankful Husband, Estaban

As soon as my eyes landed on the phrase -
True character shines forth in adversity
and yours is beautiful to behold -
my tears,
almost in an effort to wash away the earlier moments between my mom and me,
poured from my eyes.
And out loud,
these words joined my tears,
as they burst out of my mouth.

"No, it's not.
It's not beautiful at all.
It's ugly - 
so very ugly."

And, I cried and cried until I couldn't cry anymore -
tears of regret,
tears of shame,
tears of missing my dad
who would always run interference between my mom and me,
tears of missing my man
who (a phone call away)
would always listen, correct, redirect, encourage, and get me back on my way,
tears of missing the mark again in my God-given calling,
tears of hurting my Heavenly Father's heart,
tears of hurting my mom,
tears of realizing just how ugly my fleshly character is.

"Oh, Lord.
Please forgive me."

As I sat there worn and completely undone,
in my heart,
I could hear words my husband had spoken to me so many times before -

"You're not perfect, Beautiful. No one is.  You're going to mess up sometimes. We all do. But, look at your brokenness.  It's not what you want to happen. It's not what you want to do. Don't be so hard on yourself.  You can't do anything to change what happened, but try to learn from this and do it differently next time.  Did you take a minute to pray, Baby?  Did you ask God to step in and take over? Did you yield to the precious fruit of His Spirit?  These are all things you can do next time. You love your mom and she loves you.  Wipe your tears, Beautiful.  It's not the end.  It's just part of being human, sometimes."

And then,
words my father had spoken over and over again, too -

"Be nice, Darlin'. Really, that's all you can do.  Your mom is going to see things the way she sees things and your going to see things the way you do, but you can always be nice. Just be nice, Darlin'. And, talk nice. Always talk nice."

And then,
words my Heavenly Father spoke in His word and I have hidden in my heart -

"Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."
~Ephesians 4:29

"And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."
~Ephesians 4:32

"No, Lord,
this adversity is not bringing out the beautiful of Christ in me,
but oh, how I want it to.
Take my flesh and all its ugliness
and replace it with Your Spirit, Lord.
Help me to remember
to pause,
to invite You into each conversation,
each reaction,
each moment
of each and every day,
How I need You, Lord.
Thank you that always You are here.
Because You are,
I have ALL I need.

Bless this time
between my mother and me.
I know I am the blessed one
to have been chosen to be here
at this time,
in this place,
in this way.
Help me to make it all count, Lord.
Let each moment
draw me closer to my precious mom,
and closer to You, Lord."

I rested the card from my Handsome Honey
back on the nightstand by the bed,
and as I reached to open the door
and head back into the living room,
I received a text from my sister:

"We are going to get through this . . . . . together."

To be so surrounded by so much love -
by those who have been
and those who remain,
and a God whose very name is I AM -
I texted my sister back:

"Yes, we will  . . . . . together."

And, I have a feeling,
if we do it God's way,
it's going to be
beautiful
to behold.







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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

From This Day Forward, Lord, . . .

I knew I had to come.

What I didn't know
was how fast God
would set one of my reasons for being here
into motion.

As I stepped out of my car,
I felt the warmth of the sun,
the cool of a gentle mountain breeze,
and all the emotions of being at this very spot,
simultaneously.

For 15 years,
minus one -
(our second anniversary)
each August 7th,
my husband and I returned
to the mountain soil where we had once stood,
pledging our love one to another
and exchanging our vows.

Last year,
the first anniversary without my husband,
I spent this special day in the company of my sister,
in another state,
almost 700 miles north.

This year, though,
I knew I had to come back -
for my husband,
for me,
for us.

The fact that we had fulfilled our vows,
that we had stayed husband and wife
until death do us part,
was only by the grace of God.

I knew I had to come to this life-changing spot
on behalf of my husband
as much as for myself,
to thank God for seeing us through.
And, not just through,
but for also graciously bringing us so much closer
to each other and our Savior
through the process of living our everyday life as Mr. and Mrs.

But,
that wasn't the only reason I knew I had to come.

After we had exchanged our vows
and sealed the deal
with one of the sweetest kisses ever,
the pastor who had officiated our ceremony
sent us off
with the words of a prayer.

He prayed,
that we
who had come to this place
as two separate people -
would -
with God's help -
leave from this mountain sanctuary
as no longer he and she,
but as "we"
as us,
as one.

That each step,
each decision,
each turn in the path of life
would find us
single-minded,
single-hearted,
single in purpose.

I knew in my heart
that now,
without my love,
if I was ever going to be able
to move forward in my life,
I had to come back,
stand upon this same soil,
and pray a similar prayer.

As much as I hate the reality of it all,
I was now "one" again.
My other half
no longer by my side.

Lord,
help me to leave from this place today,
no longer as an "us" -
mindful of what my Handsome Honey and I would do,
of what we would dream,
of what we accomplish,
of what we would want,-
but as one,
as me.

Lord,
here I am.
I surrender all to You.
Here is my life.
I place it in Your hands
as the Author and Finisher of my life.
Take the next chapter 
and fill in the pages 
however You desire.

I felt the cool of the breeze again
and with tears streaming down my face
I prayed one last prayer.

Precious Holy Spirit,
blow on my life.
Blow me in whatever direction You want.
I'm Yours.

The following morning,
I received a phone call from my mother.
A trip to a doctor's office
had found her on her way to a local hospital.

I quickly packed my suitcase,
threw it into the trunk of my car
and set out to be with her.

Thankfully, eight hours later
when I walked into the emergency room,
she was being released to go home.

That night,
after she was fast asleep,
while my head rested on my pillow
and my heart rested on my Jesus
in the bedroom down the hall from hers,
I knew God was releasing her into my care.

In my spirit,
I could sense God
gently and oh, so very tenderly
reach into the story of my life,
and turn the page.

With His nail-scarred hand,
He smoothed out the blank page
and began to write.

August 8, 2017

Honor your father and your mother.  

Today,
twenty days later,
I'm still resting my head on my pillow
and resting my heart on my Jesus
in the bedroom down the hall from hers.

Each day,
God is faithfully writing my next chapter -
and with each stroke of His pen,
I am learning what surrender,
true surrender,
is.

"Hopefully, they can figure out what's wrong with me
 and you can get back to living your life," my mom says.

"Oh, don't think you're going to get rid of me that easily," I answer back.
"You and me - we're in it now - bosom buddies."

Because what she doesn't realize,
and what she doesn't know,
is that I am back to living my life.

This chapter,
just happens to be all about her.


God in His wisdom and love
knew
I had to come.










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Monday, August 7, 2017

When Two Becomes One Again~

You know what it is?"
I ask out loud to a living room of one.
"It's the whole "two are better than one" principle.
That's exactly what it is."

(And, admittedly,
talking out loud to myself
is part of what it is, too.)

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor.
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together,
they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

One too many ice cream shakes.

Far too many sleepless nights.

Harder falls with even harder pick-me-back-ups.

Too much taking myself seriously and not enough of you to put my eyes back on God.

"Yes, this is what it is, Handsome."

Marriage isn't easy,
make no mistake about that.
Two lives, two minds, two hearts,
two dreams, two opinions,
two "know it alls" trying to mesh into one.

No wonder marriage is for life -
without a doubt,
it takes a lifetime for the "two to become one".

It takes a whole lot of dancing to learn the steps
and to finally enjoy waltzing through life.

But, what happens when death cuts in
(unwelcome, uninvited, unplanned)
and leaves you dancing on the dance floor alone?

What happens when on of the two
who have become one,
is now one again?

Yes, two people becoming one flesh is hard.

The only thing harder:
Becoming one again after having been joined as two.

Yes, I have family.
And, yes, I have friends.
And, yes, Handsome -
everyone has gone above and beyond
to encourage,
to comfort,
to support,
to be there for me,

But the thing is this:
No one knows me like you do.

No one understands my hopes
and is aware of my fears.
No one can predict how I will react
before I react.
No one can hear
what my eyes are saying.
No one can talk me down,
talk me up,
balance me out and keep me grounded.
Like you.

No one knows our history.
No one can sight a leading of God in the past
to encourage me to step out into the future.
No one can quote a scripture with a memory connected to it.
No one can rekindle my faith,
reboot my courage,
re-ignite my passion.
Like you.

Except God.
And, of course,
God is always the exception
who is exceptional at all of this
and so much more.

But, I miss the second best part of me, -
the part that was second best
to the best part of me,
God.

I miss my dancing partner.
I miss your words, and your humor.
I miss your look and your hand in mine.
I miss your zeal and your enthusiasm,
I miss your honesty and your spontaneity.
I miss your hugs and your wrapping me in prayer
each morning and each night.

"The hardest part for me was feeling like part of me was missing.
Because, it was."

My mom told me these words a couple of days after you were gone.
Kneeling on the floor in the hallway,
outside the bathroom door where you took your last breath,
sobbing uncontrollably
and wanting nothing more than you back, she -
having walked this walk before me -
walked over to me and said those words.

A couple of months later,
one night while talking with her on the phone,
she said them again.

No wonder I feel so lost.
No wonder I feel so empty.
No wonder I feel so "not like me" anymore.

"Yes, that's what it is,"
I say out loud to a living room of one.
"It's the whole "two are better than one" principle.
That's exactly what it is."

While the missing you is hard,
and while the trying to become one "me" again
after years of becoming one "us"
is pulling me apart,
I lift my hands to Heaven and thank God
for the better I had with you.

A beautiful better.

A better beyond what I could have ever hoped better to be.

A better I would choose to do with you over and over and over again,
if only I could.

If only I could.



(Today, August 7, our anniversary.)







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Thursday, July 20, 2017

"Lord, All I Wanted Was . . ."~

Sometimes,
most times it seems,
we get handed more
than what we bargained for.

Me,
all I wanted was a burrito.

Stopping by a favorite breakfast spot
my husband and I frequented
whenever we were blessed with mornings that "matched",
I stood at the counter
ordering my favorite burrito to go.

I've done this on occasion,
every other two weeks or so,
off and on for almost a year and a half now.

But yesterday,
as I was reaching into my wallet to pay,
the waitress who had waited on my husband and I
time and time again,
reached right into my heart.
As I handed her the money,
she unexpectedly handed me this:

"Are you dating?"

No doubt,
if I'd been eating my burrito at the time,
I would have choked.

"I'm sorry, what?
Dating?
Hmm.......no."

"It's time.
You need to be.
You're still beautiful and young and he would want you to enjoy your life.
Do it.
It's time."

With that,
she reached over the counter,
swallowed me up in a hug,
handed me my burrito
and sent me out the door.

With a burrito in my hand
and unsolicited words in my heart,
I made my way to my car.
And, I just sat there.

"Lord, all I wanted was a burrito."

The words tumbled out of my heart
in a prayer that said what all the rest of me couldn't.

Minus the burrito part,
it's a prayer the Lord has heard frequently
over the past year and a half.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Rushing home from work to get my husband to the hospital . . .
only to be too late.

Happily serving the Lord in ministry . . .
only to be let go.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

As I sat in my car,
my burrito getting colder by the minute,
God, in the most amazing way,
began to warm my heart
with reminders of other times
I had spoken this exact same phrase.

Wanting a few extra days of paid time off after my husband's death
only to be given this
and several weeks more -
a gift from my gracious co-workers.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Wanting my airfare to Delaware covered for my speaking engagement this past March
only to be given this
and a $400 honorarium, and $300 love offering.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Wanting my expenses covered at a women's retreat I spoke at a week later
only to be given this
and a $100 honorarium, and a $550 love offering.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Wanting my roof repaired and a damaged ceiling patched up, dry-walled, and painted
only to be given this
and the ordering, delivery, and free installation of a new air conditioner,
a leaky faucet repaired, blinds hung, and so much more.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord.
"And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
~Isaiah 55:8-9

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
~Psalms 23:1

Sitting in the parking lot
I began to see the "extras" in my life,
all of them, -
those that I didn't want,
those that I felt left me coming up short,
and those that I knew were over the top,
all in the light of the Good Shepherd.

How could I possibly know what I want?
How could I possibly know what I need?
How could I possibly know
what God has purposed,
what God has planned,
what God has prepared for those who love Him?

The Good Shepherd knows better than me
what I need,
what is best,
what His purposes and His plans are.

Even more than me,
He longs for me to be
whole,
complete,
lacking nothing.

He longs for me to follow Him.
He longs for me to trust Him.
He longs for me
to see Him,
to hear Him,
to experience Him
in each and everyone of the "extras" of life.

I placed my key in the ignition
and buckled by seat belt.

Yes, sometimes,
most times it seems,
we get handed more
than what we bargained for.

May we learn to thank God for the "more" -
no matter how it comes packaged,
believing if we follow our Good Shepherd,
we will never "want".










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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Every. Single. One.~









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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

When It IS What It IS~

A man cave?
No, my husband definitely wouldn't have referred
to our spare bedroom as a "man cave".
After all,
it didn't have a big screen TV,
pool table or dart board.
But, make no doubt about it,
it was "his" room.

All the signs were there.

One wall was home to a gun rack
which was home not to guns,
but rather several bows,
and a pool stick
(even though we don't own a pool table).

One wall showcased three different sets of deer antlers,
a mounted deer head,
and a mounted rainbow trout.

One wall displayed canvases turned art,
painted by his very own sister.

It was definitely his room.

And, I say was and were  -
not so much because he is no longer here,
but because a leaking roof
and now,
this week, plans for new drywall and paint -
had me removing everything
that had always been
from each of these walls.

Not an easy task,
especially for one like me,
who is so sentimental and
who has been trying to hold onto
all the "normal" I can.

And sure, after the work is finished,
I can "put back" everything
in the same place it was,
but in my heart,
I know it won't be the same.

It will never be the same again.

And this is what has me struggling the most.

As I stared at the blank walls,
the words I spoke to God
echoed back at me as though I
was standing in an empty cave -

It's just you and me, God.
It's just us and
that wall and that wall and that wall and that wall.
And, Lord, You and I both know,
I'm never going to get everything back on the walls
in the exact same place and exact same way they were before.

No matter how hard we try,
we can't hold on to what once was.
We just can't.

Nothing stays the same.
Life is a constant ebb and flow of change -
day and night,
spring, summer, fall, and winter,
birth, childhood, adulthood,
life and death.

As I stood in this barren space,
wiping one tear after another,
God, as only God can do,
began to whisper to my broken heart.

You're right. 
You're absolutely right.
You won't be able to re-create the room
to the way it was before
because you don't have his touch.

But, think of the possibilities, sweet girl.

And honestly,
do you really want a mounted deer head
hanging on your wall?

Truth -
when it hits you,
it hits you.

And those fishing rods,
and bows,
and all of the rest -
they are just things, sweet girl.

They aren't him.
Having them in this room
is not going to bring him back.

Seeing them everyday is not going to 
take away the ache,
take away the lonely,
take away the want.

Look at these walls -
what do you see?
What can you envision doing with this brand new space?

Catch a vision, sweet girl,
not of what was,
but of what can be.

And I realize once again -
something that I now realize
I am going to have to keep realizing
over and over and over again:

God is doing a new thing.

IS -
not might,
not may one day,
IS.

This IS my reality.
Four blank walls surrounding me
and a blank life out in front of me.

Think of the possibilities, sweet girl.
You're right.
You're absolutely right.
It's just you and Me,
and yet,
I'm the one who can do immeasurably more
than you can think or imagine.
It's not going to be the same,
but it's going to be more than ok.
Keep holding on to Me
and together we'll hang up one day of life
and decorate one wall of this new season,
one moment at a time.

Look at these days spread out before you -
what do you see?
What can you envision doing with this brand new space?
Catch a vision, sweet girl,
not of what was,
but of what can be.

Little by little,
I begin to see it -
a chair there,
a writing desk here,
a canvas print of one of my photos on this wall,
and that wall,
and maybe that wall, too.

Little by little
I begin to see this, too -
God and I ministering to hearts
here,
there,
and maybe even over there.

And,
most surprising of all,
I begin to feel it -
a teeny, tiny tinge
of excitement,
an itty bitty bit
of anticipation,
a smidgen of
yes,
(I think it is),
joy
at the vision I am beginning to envision.

I have a feeling,
once it's all in place
and God and I have made it "ours",
my handsome honey wouldn't even mind.

"Enjoy, Beautiful, Enjoy."

"I will, Handome. I will."

You know,
come to think of it -
I've always thought our garage would look nice
with a mounted deer head hanging in it.

I think it's time to find out.









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Monday, July 10, 2017

An Open Letter to A Grieving Mom

Oh, precious one -
You have been on my heart
and in my prayers non-stop.
These words - simply an expression of my heart.

When a child loses a parent,
the new "title" given is orphan.
When a husband loses his wife
or a wife loses her husband,
widow.

And yet,
when a parent loses a child,
the loss is so indescribable
there is no word in the human language
associated with this unthinkable loss.

And loss - no matter how it comes - is something
no one truly understands or
truly knows how to react or respond to.

It changes everything - forever.
It changes you - forever.

People on the outside of your heart
looking in,
see your hurt.
No doubt,
they feel your pain.

Many are grieving with you,
shedding tears of their own.

But the thing is this:
no matter how much they long
to comfort you,
to ease your pain,
to shield you from this excruciating,
almost unbearable heartache -
they can't.

Because you see,
no one but you,
knows the true extent of your loss.

Only your heart knows
the love you had for your precious child.

Only your heart knows
the fullness their life brought
and the complete emptiness their absence brings.

Only your heart knows
the little things shared
between their heart and yours.

Only your heart knows
all your hopes and dreams
for days that were yet to come
and the bitter sting of unfulfilled moments
and never to be made memories.

Only you and you alone.

As hard as it is to admit this to be true -
there is not one other person
on this planet who understands
what you are going through,
what you are feeling,
what you are thinking,
what you are experiencing,
because no one knows you
and no one knows the child you are grieving
like you do.

No one.

No one, except God, that is.

Without you trying to finds words,
He knows.

Without you trying to express
what can never truly be expressed,
He knows.

Without you even knowing how
to help Him know,
He knows.

And, He's faithfully present 24-7,
all day,
all night,
always.

He listens.
He understands.
He comforts.
He gently holds.

And in moments of anger and
 "why, Lord, why",
He draws especially close.
And I imagine in these moments -
the hard moments when your heart
longs to understand,
it is then,
most of all,
He sheds tears with you,
just like He wept with Mary and Martha
when they lost their brother, Lazarus.

And, I have a feeling,
because He is the only one
who truly understands,
He grieves more than anyone,-
maybe even more than you and I do.

Oh sweet heart,
you have already lost
the most precious one to you
this side of Heaven.

 Don't lose The One most precious, too.

Hold on to God
with everything you have,
and all that you don't.

Having God in your life
isn't going to change your situation,
isn't going to take away
the pain, heartache, and emptiness,
isn't going to replace what you have lost,
isn't going to make your feel suddenly better.

Having God in your life
is going to change
your ability to cope,
your desire to get out of bed in the morning,
your resolve to keep breathing and living,
your willingness to give up the need to understand,
(which will only hold you prisoner until you do)
your ability to let go of guilt and regret,
(which will only hold you prisoner until you do)
your steps moving forward from here.

Having God in your life is going to change you.

When no one else can,
not even you,
God can.

When no one else will,
not even you,
God will.

When no one else - period,
not even you,
God.

He is your only hope.

And yet,
when you have your hope in Him,
you will find,
you have all that you need.

I love you and I am on my knees for you.








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Saturday, July 8, 2017

When Going Deeper Takes You Higher~

We come to know God
at the deepest level
when we experience Him
during our lowest lows.

It is during need,
we come to know Him as our Provider.

It is during sickness,
we come to know Him as our Healer.

It is during uncertainty,
we come to know Him as our Counselor.

It is during chaos,
we come to know Him as our Peace.

It is during battle,
we come to know Him as our Defender.

It is during heartache,
we come to know Him as our Comforter.

It is during wandering,
we come to know Him as our Shepherd.

It is during abandonment,
we come to know Him as our Abba Daddy.

It is during heartbreak,
we come to know Him as the Lover of our soul.

It is during judgment,
we come to know Him as our Righteousness.

It is during loneliness,
we come to know Him as our Friend.

It is during rejection,
we come to know Him as our Redeemer.

It is during shame and guilt,
we come to know Him as our Savior.

It is during darkness,
we come to know Him as our Light.

It is during trials,
we come to know Him as our Refiner.

It is during identity-crisis,
we come to know Him as our Creator.

It is during challenges,
we come to know Him as our Father.

It is during sinking,
we come to know Him as our Rock.

It is during confusion,
we come to know Him as our Truth.

It is during "I'm not able to",
we come to know Him as our great I AM.

And, when we come to know God
at the deepest level,
we find he always takes us
to our highest highs.










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Sunday, July 2, 2017

If and Only When~

When the answer to your question
is not the answer you had in mind,
but an answer that more than answers your question,
it is most likely an answer given by a child.
Let me explain.

As we sat in Children's church,
reviewing the fruit of the Spirit,
I asked the following questions:

"What kind of fruit would an apple tree grow?"

"An apple!!!" the children replied.

"What kind of fruit would an orange tree grow?"

"An orange!!!" the children said is unison.

"If the Holy Spirit is living in our heart, what kind of fruit will we grow?"

"Other Christians!!!" one boy shouted excitedly.

It wasn't the answer I had in mind,
but it was more than an answer to the question I had asked.

If we as Christians,
allow the Holy Spirit
to have His way,
to live in us and through us,
to grow
love,
joy,
peace,
patience,
kindness,
goodness,
faithfulness,
gentleness,
and self control in us,
we will indeed grow other Christians.

When hate is answered back with love.
When despair is answered back with joy.
When strife and unrest is answered back with peace.
When short-tempered is answered back with patience.
When meanness is answered back with kindness.
When doing wrong is answered back with goodness.
When betrayal is answered back with faithfulness.
When sternness is answered back with gentleness.
When human reaction is answered back with self-control.

This is when Jesus is seen.
This is when hearts are drawn to know Him more.
This is when a seed that will produce a "Christian"
is sowed into another heart.

But - sadly,
we don't always choose to represent Christ
in the beauty and truth
of who He is.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When the answer to your question
is not the answer you had in mind,
but an answer that more than answers your question,
it is most likely an answer given by a child.
Let me explain.

His words broke my heart.

Partly because I have been in his shoes,
but mostly,
mostly because I could only imagine
how this whole scenario
must have broken the heart of Jesus, Himself.

Mean people and Jesus followers -
together,
all mixed up,
professing to be one and the same.

A grown man,
he told the story of growing up in church.
How each week his Sunday School teacher
scolded him,
pointed out every wrong thing he did,
and told him
if he didn't straighten up,
he was going to Hell.

One day she added,
"What's wrong with you, boy?
Don't you want to be with Jesus?
Don't you want to go to Heaven?"

A mere six year old,
he lowered his face to the ground
and shook his head, "no".

The teacher was appalled.

"You don't want to go to Heaven?
How could you not want to go to Heaven?"

This young boy,
with all the innocence and honesty
his heart could muster into words,
looked up at this "woman of God" and replied,
"Well, you're going to be there, right?
I, uh well, I just don't want to be there.
I don't think I would like it there
with you and Jesus,
especially with no way to leave
or ever go home."

And, who could blame him
for coming to this conclusion,
for deciding if Jesus was anything like this woman,
he didn't want anything to do with Heaven,
or anything to do with Jesus?

Thankfully,
as a child,
most of the people who told me about Jesus,
not only talked about Him,
but walked out the beauty and love of Him
in their lives.

Sadly,
as an adult, however,
this hasn't always been the case.
Those professing to be Jesus followers,
those serving in His name,
those called into ministry,
have been some of the most un-Christlike people
I have known.

If they were the only view I had of Jesus,
if they were all that I glimpsed of His character and heart,
if they were who I thought Jesus was like,
just like this young boy,
I wouldn't want anything to do with
Jesus or Heaven, either.

Especially not forever and ever and ever and ever.

Mean people and Jesus followers -
together,
all mixed up,
professing to be one and the same.

And, I sit here thinking of me.

What is it that people see
when they watch my life?

How is this Jesus I talk about
being conveyed
to their hearts?

Am I a deterrent?
Am I causing people to turn tail and run
as far from God as they can?

And, I'm reminded again of the answer given by a child -
so simple and yet so profound we cannot afford to
simply skip past it,
simply chuckle at the simplicity of it,
simply move on.

The value of a soul depends on us
unwrapping this,
unpacking it,
digesting it,
and living it out in our life.

"If the Holy Spirit is living in our heart, what kind of fruit will we grow?"

"Other Christians!!!" one boy shouted excitedly.

But, 
if and only when
the Holy Spirit is living in our heart.








  
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Monday, June 26, 2017

Tucked in With the Thorns~

Sometimes,
God's blessings come packaged in ways
that cause us to question His heart
or wonder what good
could possibly be hidden inside.

And yet,
if we trust our Father
and receive of His gift,
we discover the treasure inside
is beyond anything
we could ever have hoped or imagined
it to be.

God is all knowing,
all loving,
all the time.

Trials,
heartaches,
disappointments -
not gifts we would welcome into our life,
but gifts, none the less.

As we unwrap these gifts,
we unwrap the heart of God.

We discover anew
His faithfulness.

We experience deeper
His joy -
a joy that remains in spite of.

We build a faith that
is able to thank God
in the midst of
for the good that is sure to come.

Rest assured,
our Heavenly Father always blesses us
with that which matters most.

We just need to be willing
to open our hands
and receive His gift.









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Monday, June 19, 2017

Answering the Call~

"You're moving to New Jersey?! Are you kidding me?!"

I can still see the look on my dad's face
and hear the sound of my mom's voice
as she asked what seemed to be a more than valid question
of her then 22 year old daughter.

"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me there
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
This native New Mexican packed all she could
into all the suitcases she had (a whopping count of two!)
and flew to New Jersey.
And, truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

"What?! You're taking a teaching job in Wisconsin?!
Are you kidding me?!"
(Aren't you so glad, that in a constantly changing, unpredictable world,
our parents stay predictably the same? Me, too!)

I can still see the look on my dad's face
and hear the sound of my mom's voice as she asked,
what again,
seemed to be a more than valid question
as I launched into my teaching career.

"I just know God is calling me there."

This time,
before I could continue,
my dad interrupted with a one liner
packed to the brim with truth.
"Darlin, it snows there."
I knew what he was saying.
It snows in New Mexico, too,
but Daddies worry about their daughters
moving to a place where IT SNOWS,
like in Wisconsin.

"I know, Daddy.
But, I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me there,
amongst all the snow drifts,
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
Once again,
this native New Mexican packed all she could
into a U-haul trailer and headed west -
in a truck driven by her mother,
and shared with her little sister.
And, truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

"What? You're moving to New Mexico again?!
 WONDERFUL!
When should we be there with the truck and U-haul?!"

(Amazingly, sometimes parents can even be predictable
when their response doesn't mirror words you've heard before,
but their heart cry does.)

"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will and He really wanted me there
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
This new found lover of snow
re-packed all she had
and placed them back in another rented U-haul
hooked up to the same truck
that had brought her to Wisconsin.
And truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

Not because each place didn't have a newness to overcome and challenges to face.
Not because being so far away from "home" was easy and comfortable.
Not because stepping out on my own was anything I ever wanted to do.

But, because God was calling and God met me there.

"You're moving into God's calling? Are you kidding me?"

Now, the voice I hear
is none other than my own,
although in the quiet of my own heart
I can hear tinges of my mom in these words, too.

"I have to." I tell myself.
"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down His call a zillion times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me to follow His lead,
to step out in faith,
to go where He calls
even though I have no idea where that is,
to call me again.
And, HE DID.
(Over and over and over again, HE DID).
I have to go."

So, here I am.

Remembering God's leading in the past to find courage to step out into the future.
Realizing God's call has always been just where I needed to be.
Celebrating God's guidance and ever continual prompting of my heart.
Anticipating God's provision, blessing, favor, and love in calling me forward.
Knowing God's call - when lived out, and looked back on in retrospect,
will have me, like so many times before, ready to do it all over again.

Did I know a thing about New Jersey? Nope!
Was I equipped to handle the bitterly cold, snow filled winter of Wisconsin? Nope!
Has living in my home state been a skip down easy street? Nope!

But, in all these places,
and in all the faces in each place,
and in every situation and all circumstances,
my God was there.

And, me, I have grown.  Oh, how I have grown.
And me,
(ME - the one God hand-picked to
move to New Jersey,
to head to Wisconsin,
to return to New Mexico),
I have a heart full of memories.  Such sweet memories.
I have seen the undeniable move of God.
I have felt His nearness and have been held by His faithfulness.

And, I say all of that to say this:
If you would like me to come to your church or your town
to speak at an event or for a woman's retreat,
this girl will pray and then,
if God says so,
she will pack her suitcase,
and go wherever God calls her.

Do I know how this is going to work? Nope!
Do I know all the details? Nope!
Do I feel equipped for the job at hand? Nope!

But, as my Handsome Honey would say,
"You'll be fine, Beautiful. You've got God."

Yes, I certainly, amazingly, thankfully do.....
and God is all I need.



For more information, visit my "Speaking Page."







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